Bio Note: This is a reflective time as one year bleeds into the next, both because of the usual kind of acceleration of time that we all feel as we age and due to the disorienting effects of the pandemic. February is my birth month, as well as my father's, as well as the month when my mother died, so I imagine I will be thinking about them — where they are and what they might think of me if they could see me these days. By now, In the Muddle of the Night, co-written with Alan Walowitz, should be out from Arroyo Seco Press, or nearly, and my second anthology, Floored, will have been published by Kingly Street Press, which I founded in 2019. I don't know about my parents, but I wouldn't have imagined these achievements, though being a writer was always my not-so-secret dream.
Where the Road and the Sky Collide*
What if the earth absorbed all water and the soil turned to rust – if what was left, hung in the sky, aqueous like your liquified eye, blue, shining down as you used to, with the transparency of windows, whatever a soul is or was – back before it escaped – now sounds the same old refrain in my should have-racked brain. Perhaps indifferent in the great beyond where the pain meets the sky, freed of a body, the wounded earth, the striation-raked wounds in your psyche, ground pounded, compressed. In the end, we come to a vanishing point beyond which we can't see, although the towers play pickle, toss communication only the right receptors can catch. A relay. Your spirit dances on the horizon. A dress form mannequin, shimmering in the thin atmosphere, gyrating like a 60s go-go dancer. Your memory is a truck stop where I can refuel, unwind in cherry Naugahyde seats, sip bitter coffee, grab a piece of the pie. * from Jackson Browne’s song “The Road and the Sky”
He kneads her tear duct for nectar, caught in the web of her lashes, tears. He plunges in, body like a goat's pupil across the void of her iris – a flower whose stamen he couldn't swim. He splashes a belly full of gatherings across the thorny terrain of her face. A luminescent constellation wheels before her, she flicks at it like a fly – splattered, another buzz killed. Please let there be light. He tugs at her roots, smoothes the disturbed soil.
When I Was Born
I was borne into a box to warm my flesh – they gave me heat lamps to light the way. An incubator to finish the task my mother couldn't perform. My premature body born, small flesh untouched. From a damp, dark world of flesh and blood I was borne into a box of warming lights, swaddled in clean cotton instead of womb. There was no room to move when I was born, the water breaking in the kitchen, my mother washing at the sink. She felt me sink toward the bottom of her pelvic floor, held me tight for hours while her body nurtured mine a little more, grown impatient I emerged and was borne into a box, taken from her hands and breast, lest I fail to thrive.
©2021 Betsy Mars
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